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Pizza Commander goes commercial

by Benjamin Nitschke 30. June 2006 07:23
I'm happy to announce, that one of my Rocket Commander Mods "Pizza Commander" got some attention by a german low budget publisher Novitas. Novitas, also known for its Green Pepper and Pepper Games series, will release a special version of Pizza Commander in September 2006. The game will not be like the original game, the game principle is completly new, but we still use the Rocket Commander engine. There will be at least 10 new levels and missions with very entertaining game rules.

More on that can be found on our new label for budget games (nothing there yet, but there will be information soon).

I might post some screens of the version and the new cool game ideas in the next month when we develop this game.

Btw: The Quick Tutorials are all finished now and will hopefully be released soon, I will report on that too.

This is NOT how the Pizza Commander Reloaded retail game will look like ^^

Fussball Commander released

by Benjamin Nitschke 28. June 2006 22:39
For the upcoming "Quick Tutorials" on I did a new game modification of Rocket Commander. And guess what, in times like this, where everyone is watching the WorldCup of Fussball/Soccer, we need a Fussball Commmander (not really, but it is fun anyways).

Don't expect too much, this is just a 5-minute game modification. The game is pretty simple, actually it is the same as Rocket Commander and it fits perfectly into a Quick Tutorial, where I just explain the basic steps what to do if you want to create your own game or mod. Have fun. The Coding4fun Quick Tutorials will be released shortly.

Download links:

Fussball Commander main menu:

Fussball Commander In game:

Article in german magazine

by Benjamin Nitschke 26. June 2006 21:05
The biggest german magazine for technology, called " magazin" wrote a nice 3 page article about Rocket Commander, the technology and engine behind it and a little interview with me. It really sounds great reading about .NET 2.0 and games, I get the feeling like I'm being normal ^^

Jens Konerow, the author of the article, wrote really nice stuff about me, thanks :) I'm not really a regular reader of the magazine (I only read english stuff, can't speak german anymore, hehe), but I check out their cool website and articles from time to time.

More information can be found on the official magazine site. If you have a chance to pick up the magazine, go do it, lots of interessting stuff in there :)

German magazine:

Modern Web Design

by Benjamin Nitschke 24. June 2006 00:29
I was just designing some new Atlas pages and reading on Atlas, CSS and so on. I stumbled upon this image and I find it hilarious. Please don't be offended, it is just fun.

Btw: Pageflakes (kinda useful startpage with many widgets) is one of the showcase sites on Atlas and it really shows you what is possible with Web 2.0 technology, pretty amazing.
I'm also trying out some useful stuff with help of CSS and I found this site, which is very useful (real examples > tutorials):

DirectX June2006 and testing Vista Beta 2

by Benjamin Nitschke 13. June 2006 18:23
The new DirectX SDK June 2006 came out a couple of days ago. It features absolutly nothing new, but is 60MB bigger than the last SDK, how is that even possible? I couldn't find any new or updated sample, the Managed DirectX documentation is still from August 2005 (but the C++ documentation is updated). As ZMan pointed out (from the SDK readme) on his site The Z-Buffer there are some News about the XNA Framework and the fact that DirectSound will be replaced by XACT and DirectInput by XInput. D3DX will also not be available in the XNA Framework because the XBox360 isn't able to provide the features, which is pretty stupid for a PC developer imo. But there is nothing new in the DirectX SDK for Managed DirectX, everything is unchanged.

The biggest news is that Direct3D 10 works now with the new Windows Vista Beta 2 preview. I tried out some older Vista builds (PDC version and some version in the beginning of 2006), but I wasn't satisfied with it. I thought: Lets give it another try, maybe play around with Direct3D 10 a little. Maybe there are also more drivers around for Vista.
In case you want to try out Vista too, you can get the Beta 2 Preview here (free for everyone):

I installed the 64-Bit version of Vista and it did take a little while (~ 1 hour) to install. My multimonitor setup worked instantly, which was pretty cool. My Nvidia card made no problems. However the sound driver could not be installed and all other devices only used some generic driver from microsoft. After a couple of hours installing and testing drivers, this is the result:

  • The interface and graphic effects for the windows are really good. Maybe there are similar things on Mac OS X or opensuse with xgl and compiz, but it doesn't matter if those look better or maybe have cooler features because most of the users will never use those systems (just because most of todays programs will never work on those systems). For me the instant preview is the best new feature, it doesn't matter if you press alt+tab (or windows key+tab), hover over startbar programs, use the internet explorer or use the windows explorer, there are little preview windows all over the place :-)
  • Realtek sound drivers just crash my system or they don't install properly. This drivers (I tried 3-4 different ones, XP 64 Bit versions and Vista ones) were really annoying, especially since Vista told me that the "Installation failed" with stupid things like "Could not copy file" like 500 times. After rebooting installing the drivers suddenly worked, but rebooting again didn't work and after restoring the system everything was messed up again (no sound). I installed another sound card (Soundblaster Audigy) and gave it up with the Realtek sound.
  • The second problem was getting my keyboard layout to work, which turned out to be the most annoying part of Vista for me. It is absolutly impossible to install other keyboard layouts in Vista. It is not just my keyboard driver, but every other driver I found on the internet (even marked as Vista compatible, lol) did not install. You will get always the same error message telling you "Installation failed", which will not help at all. I can still type with german or US english keyboard layout, but it is very annoying and confusing over the time. I just don't feel comfortable. I tried getting the Microsoft Keyboard Layout Creator to work, but only the testing mode did anything, everything else crashed the program, especially creating new installer packages. I also tried to hack into the existing layout drivers and modify one of them, but Vista always restored the original ones. In the last Vista releases (Beta 1 I guess) this seemed to work, but why not remove features?
  • But the problems didn't stop there, I also couldn't get my Sata Raid (silicon image) to work. Installing onto it was impossbile since Vista didn't accept any of the drivers at the installation time (I guess they don't work properly on 64 Bit), but later it was also impossible to use them. Every time I installed the XP 64 Bit drivers or drivers from the internet and restarted a black-screen (Vista doesn't seem to show bluescreens anymore) appeared telling me that the driver could not be loaded. No way to get my raid to work :(
  • But that's not all, most other drivers made also problems or could not be installed at all. For example even the Microsoft Keyboard driver can't be installed because Microsoft doesn't give you any vista drivers for their own hardware, wtf? Other things like my Hauppauge TV card didn't work either, but I didn't expect them to work.
  • To round things up, even in the little amount of programs I installed, there were some essential programs. That just will not install on Vista. Maybe they would work, but if the installation fails, you can't do much about it. Examples are some games and picture viewers like IrfanView.
  • Office 2007 looks really great and you should test out the Office Beta too, if you install Vista. The only annoying thing was of course my missing keyboard layout driver, but that has nothing to do with office ^^
  • I didn't install Visual Studio 2005, other programming tools or other big programs because of the problems above, but I don't think there are major issues with most programming tools. I heard somewere that graphic tools like Photoshop CS2 could not be installed, so maybe check that out first if you are a graphic artist.
Doesn't sound too good, does it? I was really thinking possitively after my Nvidia graphic card worked so good, in the last Vista Beta it didn't work at all in 64 Bit and I had to install the 32 Bit version, which also had its problems. But without keyboard support and so many driver issues it is not fun to use Vista at all right now, let alone work with it. And you might know that I'm pretty happy with Beta software like Visual Studio 2005 last year or Atlas and LinQ right now, but the important thing is they are downward compatible and always give you both the ability to use old code and to switch back to the old versions without much hassle.

I also installed the 32-Bit version of Vista on Virtual Server 2005 RC2, which looks cool too, but just runs way to slow. Vista does too many graphic effects for the virtual graphic card, it is no fun on a virtual machine (windows server 2003 runs 100 times better).

Everything I wrote here today isn't Microsoft's fault, it is just the drivers are not ready for Vista (at least if using the 64-Bit version, the 32-Bit version might be a bit easier to use). Lets hope the device manufactures improve their drivers before Vista gets released and not afterwards. The only thing bad in Vista besides the driver installation (it just makes no sense to tell me "could not copy file" and then it works after restarting) is the missing ability to install other keyboard layouts or change them. I still think Microsoft can make it this year to finally release Vista, but it woundn't hurt if it takes longer until every single driver works perfectly.

Little Update 2006-06-22: I also tested the 32 bit version of Vista Beta 2 now and I got the exact same driver and program problems (sound card, raid, tv card all don't work, many programs don't work, my own keyboard layout can't be installed, etc.). I just wanted to check out the new cool IIS7 (check out after watching the latest DotNetShow Episode about IIS7. IIS7 is really cool, but Vista is still unuseable for me (no sound, no keyboard layout are the main issues for me). Check out the DotNetShow for more details about IIS7 and how easy it gets to create, configure and deploy web applications.

Other news about my Visual Studio Boo language addin: I decided to pause the project because I'm currently very satisfied with LinQ and it's features and how good it can be used in Visual Studio 2005 already. I'm thinking about using my Boo language addin code for another addin sometime soon. There is a cool Visual Studio Extensibility Contest, where you can win up to $5000 and you will be featured on MSDN. I read about it yesterday, the contest is already running since last month, but the deadline is the 30 July, so there are still 7 weeks left. Have to thing of something cool though.

And: I just bought Half life 2 - Epsisode one via Steam (20 bucks only for a full singleplayer game) and I like that I don't have to go anywhere, just download and play. I was a big fan of Half life 2 and I like the fact that the singleplayer story now continues. The first mission is really good and I like the commentary mode in the game.

DirectX SDK June 2006

Vista Beta 2 Preview

Office 2007 Preview

Having fun with C# 3.0 (LinQ CTP May 2006) and CR_Commenter v1.6 Update

by Benjamin Nitschke 8. June 2006 07:25
Quick link to CR_Commenter v1.6 which supports C# 3.0 and adding namespaces now.

C# 3.0/LinQ (Language integrated Query) is pretty cool. I saw it at the PDC last year and watched some videos on Channel9. However, to use it you had to install a special VS2005 version from the PDC. Later an updated version came out, but still it was no fun to use it since the Visual Studio implementation wasn't any useful.

The technology behind LinQ is pretty amazing. It allows you to use Sql databases or Xml files or just lists or arrays in your code and query them with a very simple syntax. It improved a little, querying is not only easier, but more powerful and a lot of fun to play around. There are also a couple of cool short videos on the LinQ page (scroll down), which explain every big feature of LinQ.

However, it is still a CTP (the current one is from May 2006) and it is not really recommended for production code yet. You can read about problems with LinQ here and here.

You might ask why I think LinQ is so important, it looks like only database developers, business guys and maybe website developers will benefit from it, but right now there are a couple of projects and classes in my game engine that really benefit from C# 3.0. It does not only make the code much easier to write and is more fun to play around with, it is also much easier to read and test, debug, etc.

I don't really care if the product is ready or not, for example I like Atlas too and use it. I already like C# 3.0/LinQ in the current version and think it is very useable. The Visual Studio 2005 IDE does have its problem with it, but some of the problems can be fixed by just enabling automatic formating again and direct intellisense without pressing alt+space (if you like that and can live with some wrong suggestions). LinQ does disable all of them after installing, I only found out about it 1 day later and was happy to reactivate it again.

Some problems can't be fixed that easily. For example the Ctrl+. helper to do refactoring and adding namespaces, etc. does not work properly anymore. This isn't that bad for me because I use CodeRush for most refactorings anyway. But when a feature is missing you really need all the time, it really hurts and one of these features is the simple Add Namespace refactoring by Visual Studio 2005, which doesn't work anymore with LinQ. There was a plugin available some time ago for CodeRush, but it doesn't work anymore with the new version. After searching the internet and finding no solution other than to uninstall LinQ again, I improved my CR_Commenter plugin a little and it supports now adding namespaces ;-)

CR_Commenter v1.6 Installer download (81kB)
CR_Commenter v1.6 Source Code (72kB)

As you can see on the image a non-existing namespace will be added automatically if you just press Ctrl+., I also added some nice Action Hints for adding namespaces, adding comments and for generating regions. There are also more hotkeys around (Ctrl+1 for commenting, Ctrl+. or Ctrl+2 for adding a namespace, Ctrl+3 for creating a region around the current method, Ctrl+5 or Ctrl+F9 for updating the whole file).

More information about my CodeRush plugin CR_Commenter and the new improvements can be found on the CR_Commenter post.

Some links about LinQ in case you have not heard of it yet:

Update 2006-08-09: Added a couple of features (same download link, still v1.6):
  • Adding namespace does work now for older CodeRush versions too
  • Removed region feature (Ctlr+3), which already works fine with CodeRush
  • Added auto-updating on header comments every time you update your code (not only the date, but also the line numbers, file size, etc. is now updated)
  • Action hints are now only displayed if some code was changed

Playing around with Atlas and Google Maps

by Benjamin Nitschke 4. June 2006 01:17
I updated the Freifunk-Hannover website and added support for Google Maps. The users can now add, edit, remove and view all the Wifi-Nodes on a cool dynamic map.

I used Atlas to perform some update features and to implement Google Maps (which is just using Javascript and has no support for ASP.NET directly). Atlas (which is Microsofts way of using Ajax/web 2.0 technology) is really cool because you can plug it into any existing ASP.NET page without much work (just a simple dll and couple of new keywords).

This is the website I implemented for Freifunk-Hannover:

I'm also very amazed by the cool new features of Ajax/Atlas/web 2.0, but still it doesn't feel right to wait for the brower sometime. I can life with it when it is just mail, but I don't think the browser is ready for any calender, contact, instant messaging or games in the near future. I hate delays, even the cool Google Suggest Beta, which gives you a nice autocomplete feature for google searches, is in no way as useful as any autocomplete or intellisense on your desktop. The main reason is just the delay and it doesn't allow as many features as desktop applications do. Anyway, dynamic web stuff with Ajax or Atlas is still very cool. Working with Atlas is often much easier than with normal ASP.NET, which is a good reason to use it right now :-)

Atlas technology:
Disclaimer: The opinions expressed in this blog are own personal opinions and do not represent the companies view.
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